Mar-a-Lago search: Republicans seek Archive documents


Former President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general’s office for a deposition in a civil investigation. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

(NewsNation) — House Republicans have requested documents from the national archivist after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office Monday.

In a letter to the acting archivist of the United States, Republicans with the Oversight and Reform Committee asked for all documents and communications between any employee or agent of National Archives and Records Administration, the FBI or Department of Justice and the Offices of the United States Attorneys regarding Trump.

The committee is also looking for all communication between NARA employees about documents Trump possesses, all documents submitted to a U.S. federal district court or magistrate or judge, and all documents that illustrate the process of how NARA collects documents during a presidential transition.

The House Republicans believe the enforcement of the Presidential Records Act under Trump differs from previous presidents.

“The FBI and NARA`s actions apparently to enforce the Presidential Records Act (PRA) are so contrary to the customary treatment of former administrations that it begs scrutiny into whether a political motivation underlay the raid,” the letter states.

The Presidential Records Act from 1978 establishes public ownership of all presidential records and developed a way presidents must manage their records.

Under the act, the president is responsible for the management and keeping of presidential records and must separate personal records.

The act allows the president to get rid of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational or evidentiary value, but only after a written proposal on the proposed disposal has been provided to the archivist of the United States.

Once a president leaves office, the law requires presidential records to be automatically transferred into the legal custody of the archivist. This applies to the records of all presidents and vice presidents and began with the Reagan administration.

Sources confirmed to NewsNation the search at Mar-a-Lago is linked to an investigation into whether or not Trump mishandled presidential records related to the discovery of boxes full of White House records that were taken to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left office.

The former president maintains the search of the Palm Beach, Florida resort was neither necessary nor appropriate. While the search of a former commander in chief’s home is unprecedented, Trump has called it “prosecutorial misconduct.”

Could Trump face any punishment in relation to the Presidential Records Act? While it seemingly would depend on what evidence is presented to the Department of Justice, there does not appear to be a criminal provision specific to the act.

However, under Title 18, Section 2071 of U.S. Code, anyone who unlawfully conceals, removes or destroys government records is subject to punishment of a fine, up to three years imprisonment or being disqualified from holding any U.S. office.

Other than denouncing cyberthreats against federal agents after the Mar-a-Lago search, FBI Director Christopher Wray has not directly answered questions about Monday’s probe.

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